Learning Software Development with Microsoft Office

I was recently listening to a JavaScript Jabber podcast featuring Dan Abramov, where he stated that he got into software development because at school he was taught PowerPoint: he loved making animations, and one day discovered the macros that powered those animations. These macros were actually scripts: by changing values within them, Dan could programatically alter the animations.

This reminded me of my own route into the software industry: though WordBASIC (most of you under 40 probably won’t remember WordBASIC: it’s what Word macros were written in before we had Visual Basic for Applications).
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Sheffield.Digital on Slack

Last week at UpFrontMini conference I learned of the Manchester tech Slack. I signed up straight away, and found it a great resource for finding out about tech events in Manchester as well as networking with local developers and companies.

The next day, when I got my regular weekly #geekbrekky callout on Twitter, I thought “wouldn’t Slack be a better platform for getting this message out?” I tweeted about it and within a few hours Sheffield.Digital and Chris Dymond had a site up and running and ready to be populated. Chris and I spent a few days getting it looking nice and shiny, and now it’s gone live – please sign-up (and come to #geekbrekky) if you’re in or around Sheffield and working in the digital sector, together let’s make this a great resource for all of us!

Functional JavaScript

Two or three years ago, my polyglot colleague Dave Spanton persuaded me to try functional programming. I took a few basic Haskell tutorials, but went no further. I got the sense that there was a far deeper seam there which I really needed to dig into, but time, and the pressures of work, gradually drove the need out of my mind.

In the last couple of weeks, I finally made time to go deeper. And I did so by taking the Hardcore Functional Programming: Advanced JavaScript Coding course, by Joe Nelson and Brian Lonsdorf, on Udemy (Udemy had one of their sales on — I swear they have more sales than DFS — and so I picked the course up for just £12, rather than the £78 advertised).
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I’m Back

When I started this blog, back in February 2001, its title meant something: Life – because it was a journal of mine – and Less Literary – because I didn’t want anything on it to be over-thought, over-worked. This was a very deliberate strategy, prompted by the fact that I’d spent the last couple of years intending to put more writing online, but was stymied by my own perfectionism.

In those early days the volume of stuff I wrote on here was, with hindsight, phenomenal. Often several posts per day, some of them surprisingly lengthy. I quickly built up an archive of stuff on diverse topics than in later years became the stuff of legend and mockery. I migrated from Blogger to some-other-platform-whose-name-I-forgot to WordPress, and moved servers at least a couple of times. I added various templates and plugins, most of which have died in some way or other over the years (any WordPress experts out there fancy helping me with some housekeeping?) And gradually, year by year, my written output slowed down. Until we reach the present day, where it seems hard for me to scrape together even one post per year – and even then it’s usually when someone dies.

Then last night, in a beer-fuelled conversation with Si Wilson and Emma Jane Hogbin Westby somebody suggested that I write blog posts to help firm up my thinking on technical topics. Which is something I’ve been meaning to do for yonks but, yeah, perfectionism. And then I was reminded of the original purpose of this blog, of the title of the bloody thing, and I thought “fuck it. It’s time to get less literary again”.

And so, here I go, again. I hope this will be the start of a renaissance of less-literaryism. I would love to post here every day, but I suspect that a couple of times per week would be a more realistic target. Please harass me if I don’t. The contents will be a little more technical than in the past (funnily enough, for somebody who has worked mainly as a developer for the last 20 years, I’ve managed to maintain this blog for 14 of those years with a surprisingly low level of pollution from overly-dry code samples and technical arguments; it was too good to last). But there will still be plenty of random shit. Enough, I hope, that I will be able to look back in ten years’ time and say, in response to a discussion on any topic under the sun, “oh, I wrote a blog post about that in 2015”.

Airbnb holiday apartment rental in Sheffield

We now have a lovely, newly decorated hip, modern studio-flat, attached to our house, which is listed as a rental apartment on Airbnb. If you’re interested in visiting Sheffield, and you find the listing via my blog, then you can have a 15% discount on your stay: just send me an enquiry on Airbnb via the link below, stating that you arrived there from sumption.org.

Studio flat S10 close to university – Flats for Rent in Sheffield

Apartment in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Our recently converted mezzanine studio flat is attached to our home, but with its own private entrance. 20 minutes walk from the city centre, and with the Peak District also within walking distance, it's a perfect base for all sorts of adventures… View all listings in Sheffield

We have already welcomed a host of lovely people from as far afield as the USA, China, India and Kuwait, visiting Sheffield for weddings, graduations, music festivals, catching up with old friends or just for a city break. Every one has been a pleasure. We try to make your stay in Sheffield a little bit special by providing you with artisan bread, jam and butter, a selection of books we have loved, and advice and recommendations for restaurants and places of interest in Sheffield, plus walks both in the city and in the beautiful surrounding Peak District.


hyp·na·go·gic adjective

Of, relating to, or occurring in the period of drowsiness immediately preceding sleep. hypnagogic hallucinations.

I remember a couple of occasions in my life when I went to bed early, listening to the radio, and soon found myself floating in some sort of a reverie, conscious yet not quite awake, entranced by music more beautiful than I had ever thought possible.

With that in mind, I have put together a playlist of hypnagogic tunes on Spotify. Put it on by your bedside before you go to sleep. Perhaps put it on loop. I can’t promise you that magical, lucid feeling, but I do hope that your dreams will prove interesting.